James Laurinaitis was named the Big Ten's Defensive Player of the Year for the second-straight season, becoming the first player to win the award twice since Northwestern's Pat Fitzgerald shared honors with Shawn Springs in 1996 to earn his second. Illinois linebacker Dana Howard is the only other player win two defensive POY awards and like Fitzgerald, he shared one with a Buckeye, splitting the award in 1993 with Dan Wilkinson.
So, splitting hairs a little, Laurinaitis becomes the first player to actually win two without having to share one of them. Further, a Buckeye has now snared this award in five of the past seven seasons. Where you at, Linebacker U?
As expected, Pryor was named the league's top freshman, joining Robert Smith (1990), Korey Stringer (1992), Orlando Pace (1994), Andy Katzenmoyer (1996) and He Whose Name Shall Not Be Typed (2002) as Buckeyes that have won the award. Also named honorable mention all-Big Ten by the media, LiC led the conference in passing efficiency with a 151.3 rating and becomes the first freshman to lead the league in that category since the stat was introduced in 1980. Stop and think about that for a second. Now begin salivating to thoughts of September 2009.
Cornerback Malcolm Jenkins and tackle Alex Boone join Laurinaitis on both the coaches' and media first teams. Laurinaitis was a unanimous selection as voted by the media and Jenkins was a unanimous pick of the coaches, which leads me to believe the Big Ten coaches share more of the blog hive mind than the media.
Making all-conference second teams were Beanie Wells (both), Marcus Freeman (both) and Kurt Coleman (media).
I can understand how Beanie slid to the 2nd team considering his injury and the fact that the conference has two of the top three rushers in the country. But he was healthy for every Big Ten game and when you look at the numbers for the eight games, he more than holds his own.
Obviously Greene is a runaway for that first spot in the backfield as was his choice for Offensive Player of the Year. He had an incredible season and is your likely Silver Football winner for conference MVP. If he sticks around, we'll get a chance to see him in the Shoe next November as the Hawkeyes roll back on to the schedule. But that battle for the 2nd spot looks like it might favor Wells. Ringer is a fine back in his own right and the 10 touchdowns in Big Ten play is impressive, but that 3.5 YPC kind of sticks out, doesn't it? Do Beanie's raw talents not give him the benefit of the doubt here?
Other Buckeyes honored were tackle Nader Abdallah and tight end Rory Nicol as each were named honorable mention by both the coaches and the media, while Brian Robiskie and Pryor were named honorable mention by just the media.
Penn State's A.Q. Shipley was named Offensive Lineman of the Year, while Iowa's Mitch King is the league's Defensive Lineman of the Year. Finally, Joe Paterno captured the Coach of the Year award. Deserving pick, no doubt, but it's my contractual obligation to point out that Tressel has still never won the honor. I'm not saying he earned it this year, but five Big Ten titles in eight years and not once the top coach?